After a particularly tumultuous polling day, the PPP has managed to secure a comfortable win in Karachi's PS-88 Malir by-election for a seat in the Sindh Assembly, according to unofficial results issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday.
Polling for the PS-88 by-election — that was slated to be a hot contest between the PPP and PTI — was marred by allegations of vote rigging, violence and intimidation as all contesting parties traded charges against each other.
According to the unofficial results, PPP's Yousuf Murtaza Baloch was in the lead with more than 24,000 votes, followed by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP) Syed Kashif Ali Shah with a little over 6,000 votes. PTI's Jan Sher Junejo trailed behind with close to 5,000 votes.
Baloch is the son of Murtaza Baloch, the former minister for human settlement. The seat fell vacant after the latter died of Covid-19 in June last year.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah congratulated Yousuf on his victory, adding that Malir was the party's stronghold. "The people of PS-88 have expressed confidence in the party's leadership," he said.
Voting began peacefully in the constituency on Tuesday morning. However, things started to heat up in the second half of the day when police detained PTI's Haleem Adil Sheikh near one of the polling stations and claimed that they acted on the directives of the ECP to stop the opposition leader and his armed guards from influencing the electoral process.
But there was no statement from the ECP to countercheck the police claims and later it transpired that the police arrested Sheikh in an old case and shifted him to the office of the Special Investigation Unit.
The police action came an hour after PPP leaders approached the ECP with a written request stating that Sheikh was harassing voters, polling staff and interfering in the electoral process.
In a video statement apparently released while he was in custody, the opposition leader blamed PPP workers for firing at his convoy in Malir.
“I am the leader of the opposition but my police security was withdrawn on the direct orders of Bilawal [Bhutto-Zardari] and [Asif Ali] Zardari,” he said. “I was left with no other option but to keep my personal guards. But still they tried to kill me. They fired shots on my vehicle. My guards responded and fired shots in the air to disperse the attackers. The PPP harassed our workers and we caught their workers red-handed while casting bogus votes.”
Meanwhile, MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari condemned Sheikh's arrest and termed it an attempt to influence the electoral process. He also levelled allegations of rigging in favour of the candidate of the ruling party in Sindh.
MQM-P candidate Sajid Ahmed came in at the fourth place with 2,634 votes.
Similar allegations against the PPP were also levelled by TLP’s Kashif Shah.
Joint PDM candidate wins Pishin by-poll
Jamiat Ulema-Islam (JUI-F) candidate Syed Azizullah Agha won the by-election of Balochistan Assembly’s vacant seat of PB-20 (Pishin-III) with a massive majority against his rival Asmatullah Tareen of ruling Balochistan Awami Party on Tuesday.
According to official results received late at night, Agha obtained 16,086 votes while Tareen could get only 2,963 votes. The JUI-F candidate enjoyed the support of all political parties which are part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement alliance.
The Awami National Party (ANP), which is also part of the opposition alliance, withdrew its candidate Syed Abdul Bari in favour of the JUI-F candidate. BAP candidate Tareen was enjoying the support of PTI, JUI-N and some other small groups.
Over half a dozen other candidates were also contesting the by-election, but they could show no significant performance. The seat had fallen vacant on the death of former governor and MPA Syed Fazal Agha last year due to coronavirus.